Some of us remember the days when good old 3D shooters were everything the gamers were talking about. The games such as Doom II, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, and etc, were decorating the covers of all gaming magazines, and for good reason. These games popularized 3D shooting genre, and now, over two decades later, we got surprised by a game that took everything we loved about them, mixed it with a healthy dose of nostalgia, and spiced it with retro-3D graphics to create something extraordinary. That something is Ion Fury, and if you enjoyed playing the pioneers of 3D shooters, or even if you just heard some tall tales about them, you’re gonna love it!
Development and reception
Ion Fury was developed by Voidpoint, LLC and published by 3D Realms. Yes, the same 3D Realms that brought us gems such as Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. Now, about two decades later, they decided to use the good old Build Engine once again to create a game that will make all those 3D shooter games we remember and love proud. Initially, the game was supposed to be titled Ion Maiden, but Brittish Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden threatened to sue 3D Realms, so in the end, the game’s name was changed to Ion Fury.
The game was released on August 15th, 2019 on Steam and GoG, and so far, it was met with great reception. On its Steam page, Ion Fury currently (August 17th) sits at 96% Overwhelmingly Positive score with over 1400 reviews. On GoG, Ion Fury currently has 4.5/5 overall rating. The publishers also stated they are planning to release the game on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch at a later date.
The story of Ion Fury follows explosives expert Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, who earned her nickname defusing bombs for Global Defense Force. She has to use her “bombastic” set of skills to eliminate members of the evil cybernetic cult, unleashed onto the streets of Neo DC by the evil mastermind named Dr. Jadus Heskel. It is worth noting that Heskel is voiced by none other than Jon St. John, the voice actor known for voicing the legendary Duke Nukem.
Ion Fury is a direct sequel to Bombshell, 3D Realms game released in 2016. However, that game wasn’t very well received by the audience and was met with a mixed reception. Still, you won’t need to play it to get acquainted with the story and the setting since Ion Fury is fine enough as a standalone title.
Now, for the interesting part. Other than the Campaign, Ion Fury offers several different bonus missions, such as the Preview Campaign called Crisis in Columbia; Queen of the Hill – a mode in which you have to survive waves of enemies for as long as possible; and a Bombardier Trial – a mode in which you play with infinite bowling bombs. Still, the Campaign is pretty much the main focus of Ion Fury and is definitely its most entertaining part.
Shelly can use a wide variety of weapons to eliminate her opponents. Each of those has two firing modes. She starts with a fast-firing revolver named Loverboy which you’ll use to make a quick work of basic enemies. You’ll also be able to use Electrifryer, a close-range weapon used to shock ‘n’ fry your enemies. Disperser is a shotgun-type weapon that can also be used as a grenade launcher with its alternative firing mode. Penetrator is an SMG weapon that can set enemies on fire with its rounds, and its alternative firing mode will let you dual wield two of these babies. You’ll also be able to find many other interesting weapons including Chaingun, Ion Bow, Bowling Bombs, etc.
The gameplay itself is very reminiscent of Duke Nukem 3D. It has quite a similar feel to it, and from the get-go, you’ll feel like you’re playing a 3D shooter straight from the ’90s. Still, the developers took the core of the old 3D shooters and added some nice modern features, such as improved controls, headshots, auto-saves, and etc. Ion Fury’s main campaign features about ten hours worth of content, which considering the price tag of 24.99 USD, is a pretty decent bang for your buck. And make no mistake, those ten hours are just for the first playthrough. Ion Fury features four different difficulty levels, and it has tons of secrets scattered throughout the maps, so realistically, you’ll get way more hours of fun and excitement.
While the old school retro style isn’t appealing for everyone, if you enjoyed games such as Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, or Shadow Warrior, you will love this game. Ion Fury looks like it was developed back in the ’90s and buried in a time-capsule for twenty years. All of the low-res textures give Ion Fury a unique feel, and there is something truly special about it that can’t be described with words. Also, if you tone down the settings and resolution, you will definitely get the feeling you’re playing a long-lost cousin of Duke Nukem 3D.
The levels are designed beautifully. There is no procedural generation, meaning each level is hand made, which honestly, is an amazing thing, and hats off to the developers for doing this. All in all, Ion Fury was designed to look like the games from the ’90s without any fancy effects and realistic graphics, and frankly, it’s perfect the way it is.
This is, perhaps, the best part of the game. Ion Fury’s gory, exciting, over the top action will hook you in from the start. Each time you fire a bullet, throw a bomb or electrocute an enemy, you will feel the thrilling sensation crawling through your body. It managed to replicate all the incredible excitement of Duke Nukem 3D and gave it to us with a bit of modern feel to it.
What also adds up to the overall atmosphere is the music and the sound effects. Simply said, these are fantastic and will immerse you into the game world incredibly well. Each sound of weapons being fired or the screams of evil cultists being shredded by your deadly weaponry will give you a thrilling sense of satisfaction. Also, the music playing in the background is the cherry on top, and will really bring back that ‘90s feel.
Occasionally, Shelly will throw some cheesy one-liners into the mix, and these will further increase that retro aspect of the game. Also, while playing, you’ll encounter tons of easter eggs referencing some of the game titles Ion Fury is inspired by.
All things considered, Ion Fury is a must-have for all lovers of the shooting genre, both old-school and modern. The developers took a little from every good ‘90s shooter, mixed it up, and added a bit of modern touch to create this gem. Go try it out, you won’t regret it!